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Keep an eye out for snippets or quotes from novels, newspapers or magazines, TV or YouTube – it can be useful to have little things to trigger short discussions. These are just a few examples


John Le Carre – A Most Wanted Man

Annabel was remembering her law tutor discoursing on the art of cross examination. Never underestimate a witnesses silence, he liked to say. There are eloquent silences, guilty silences, silences of genuine bewilderment and silences of creativity. The trick is to know what kind of silence you are hearing from your witness.

But this silence was her own.


TV’s “House”

(Hugh Lawrie playing an American doctor who is a clinical genius, curmudgeon and who exhibits “wonderfully poor communication skills with patients and juniors)

Junior doctor – you want ME to take a history?

House – Yes

JD – But you said everyone lies!

H – Yes but the truth begins with lies

JD – How do you think you’re always right?

H – I don’t but I find it hard to operate on the opposite assumption.

Why are you so afraid of making mistakes?

JD – Because I’m a doctor and when we make mistakes people die.


Arthur Koestler

Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where the teacher and learner are situated in the same individual.


Being too reflective!

Patient – Doctor nobody understands me

Doctor – Oh what do you mean by that?


Book of exhortations

If you can see look and if you can look – observe


William Golding

Nothing is as impenetrable as laughter in a language you don’t understand


Blake Morrison – from “And When Did You Last See Your Father?” re his GP father

He has always cried easily. He cried when cats and dogs died, cried when he left my sister at boarding school, he cried when waving goodbye from under our chestnut tree the day I went to University. So why has he taught me to be brave and hold it in? Why have I never been able to cry? Why can’t I cry for him?

The family, not for the first time is acting as a controlled medical experiment, what we are swallowing today, every patient in Earby will be swallowing tomorrow. A, B, C, D vitamins followed by bacon, egg, tomato and dippy bread. His diet sheet contained the statement “if you eat enough of anything – even grass – you’ll get fat. Just look at cows.

After his father died – Everytime the phone goes my mother has to confirm the rumour or accept the condolonces abd live his death all over again.

When Blake is a child and in hospital for the tonsillectory his father insisted he needed “The nurse smiles at me when she brings the jam sandwiches. She smiles differently at the other nurses, and when she smiles at sister it is different again. I wish there were bubbles coming out of her head with words like in Eagle. Thought bubbles would be a useful invention in real life”



Steve Tolz – from his incredible, rather bizarre novel – “A Fraction of the Whole”

Sometimes not talking is effortless and other times is more exhausting than lifting pianos.

I decided against asking for advice. Some people sense when you are drowning and when they step forward to get a clear view they can’t help putting their foot on your head.




David Lodge – Deaf Sentence has some funny and interesting things about deafness but also this

“How could he do that to us?” she said “Killing himself without a word of explanation leaving us to wonder forever why he did it, whether it was our fault in some way we couldn’t guess. It meant we could never have closure, Never”


Carol Anne Duffy – talking about her poetry and silence

I suppose one thing I do notice is being comfortable with silence. So not writing about my mother, or indeed any significant adult poetry would have really worried me when I was younger. I would have been trying to force it. Now I feel silence is permissible and out of silence things will come.


Cecil Helman – from Suburban Shaman

To be a good doctor you have to be a compassionate chameleon, a shape shifter – a shaman. Even if your adaptation to your patients’ world happens at an unconscious level you should always work within their system of ideas, never against it…”


Rudyard Kipling

Words are the most useful medicine in mankind



All of life and human relations have become so incomprehensibly complex that, when you think about it, it becomes terrifying and your heart stands still.

Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.



We should look long and hard at ourselves before we make judgment on others



Never clutter your mind with information you can find somewhere else